Making the decision to work, as a mother, is difficult enough by itself. Being able to get dressed and get out the door without forgetting something…well, that is nearly impossible. For those of us pretending to have it all together, some tips are helpful.

1—Pre-plan your outfits the night before you go to work. This seriously saves me around half an hour of morning prep time sometimes and takes the decision out of the equation. Plan down to socks and shoes and have them laid out—leave nothing to decide the next morning.

2—Maxi skirts are basically socially acceptable pajamas. Not going to lie, I have even worn skirts to bed when I couldn’t bring myself to change. People are shamed for wearing pajama pants to drop kids off at school or get groceries, but moms in maxi skirts are not given a second look. They’re made from the same materials most times. I am not sure why they’re treated differently, but I am not going to argue the fact either.

3—Shower at night instead of the morning. This saves me another half an hour of bathing and blow drying. If you really feel like you get that dirty at night, then disregard, but no one has ever complained about an aroma to me.

4—Invest in some on-the-go breakfast items, and set up your coffee pot to start percolating the night before. I cannot stress enough the importance of getting as much done the night before as possible. I’m a morning person, and I still drag a little when I wake up. The more you can get accomplished while you’re focused, the better. If your coffee has a timer, set it so your coffee will be ready as soon as you wake up. Then, you can be greeted to a nice jolt of caffeine immediately. Cooking in the morning is a pain, so having a couple granola bars or microwavable breakfast burritos will help get you out the door much more quickly.

5—Cook twice as much, freeze half. I’ll give props to the moms who can spend an entire Sunday afternoon preparing freezer meals. I’ve never been able to drum up the attention span necessary for that. I have, however, made far too much and eating leftovers can be a drag, so I divide half the meal into a freezer bag and save it for a day when I have far too much going on to really cook. This works best with soups, stews, and anything you put in the crock pot. Get to know and love your crock pot—it will be your best friend so often.

6—Get creative with your Pandora. My little guy recently decided he does not like to go to bed at night. After several nights of troubleshooting, I found that a soothing station on my Pandora account—one called Sleepytime Tunes—was perfect for calming him down. Now, we play it when it’s bedtime and leave it on until he falls asleep, and stays there. Simple, yet effective, and allows mama to get the sleep she needs as well before a full day of work. We also use these soothing tunes in the car when he is agitated.

7—Don’t let your stress go unchecked. It’s difficult enough being a mom and dealing with all the curveballs life will throw you. Working full time on top of that adds stress, both good and bad, into the mix. Find something to soothe you, be it yoga, bubble baths, kickboxing, Zumba dancing, reading, or creating artwork. Replenish yourself to save your sanity. Splurge on that mani/pedi if you can find the funds to do so. Remember, it’s cheaper to keep your mental health in check now than it is to shell out cash for therapy later.

Sarah Pearce

Sarah Elizabeth Pearce is a journalist in west central Illinois. She's a mother, wife, daughter, and sister. She's working to bring an arts council to life in her community in her spare time (that is, the time she's not chasing around an energetic son and playful dog). Whenever she isn't writing - she is cooking, cleaning, or crocheting.